Fights broke out after South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) expelled its firebrand youth leader, Julius Malema. He was found guilty of dividing the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute.
The clashes occurred between pro and anti-Malema demonstrators in his home town of Seshengo in Limpopo province in South African's far north.
Shots were fired when a group of anti-Malema protesters carrying a mock tombstone with the word's "RIP Julius" and "corrupt dictator" descended onto the street where pro-Malema supporters had gathered.
There were reports of stone throwing and fighting, but no reports of casualties.
The clashes occurred after the ANC announced Malema's expulsion from the party on Wednesday evening. Malema has been given 14 days to appeal.
'Disrespect for ANC'
The ANC had already suspended the outspoken Youth League leader back in November on several charges. These included bringing the ANC into disrepute by calling for a change of government in Botswana and for sowing dissent within the party by portraying ANC President Jacob Zuma in a "negative light".
It justified his expulsion by underscoring "the cumulative effect of comrade Malema's past and present offenses, coupled with his own evidence of lack of remorse and disrespect for the ANC constitution and its structures".
Once a former Zuma ally, 30-year-old Malema has in recent years turned into a virulent critic of the president, calling for Zuma's replacement and criticizing his policies, saying his regime favors the elite more than poor South Africans.
Analysts said Malema's expulsion was politically motivated
"It is a part of Zuma's strategy to make his next re-election go unchallenged," said Nic Dawes, editor in chief at South African newspaper, Mail & Guardian.
Malema had threatened to remove Zuma as head of the party during the ANC's upcoming leadership conference in December.
Malema said he will continue to fight.
"I'm not a soldier who is prepared to fall in the battle, I will die with my boots on, I will die for what I believe in," Malema was reported as saying by the South African news agency SAPA.
A trouble maker?
Many South Africans are unsurprised by the ANC's decision said DW's correspondent in South Africa, Subry Govender.
South Africa has one of the most unequal wealth distributions in the world
The country will be a better place without Malema, one student told Govender with another saying South Africans were "excited" by the ANC ruling because Malema was a "trouble maker".
Nevertheless, South African political analyst Dr Samadoda Fikeni stressed that the ANC should not ignore the social and economic issues such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, and wealth ownership raised by Malema.
Having grown up in a deprived township, Malema cast himself as a champion of the poor in a country where 50 percent of the population live on less than $2 a day.
Expulsion from the ANC isn't Malema's only problem at the moment. Known for his lavish lifestyle, Malema is facing investigations into his financial dealings. It is alleged that he was paid kickbacks to help businesses win government contracts.
Author: Asumpta Lattus (AFP,Reuters,dpa, Subry Govender in Johannesburg)
Editor: Kate Hairsine /sh